When Harker Heights Parks and Rec partnered with Killeen Parks and Rec and Stonetree Golf Course to form a junior golf league, Harker Heights Recreation Superintendent Lori Briere said she and her staff were hoping to get 30 participants in the league.
“And then we surpassed that goal probably a week, two weeks after we opened registration,” Briere said. “We actually ended up having to go to the golf course and saying, ‘What do we need to cap this at because this could go on.’”
And Briere was right.
The Tee Off Junior Golf League kicked off June 23 and boasts 62 participants between the ages of 7-14 — and there is a waiting list of 12.
As it turns out, Sean Gilliland, who coaches in the league, was on the money when he first tossed out the idea of having a golf program for kids earlier this year.
“Obviously there’s a need,” Briere said.
The league will run every Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Stonetree Golf Course in Killeen until August 18.
“Obviously, we want to put a good, quality program out there,” Briere said. “And I think partnering with Killeen Parks and Rec and Stonetree Golf Course, you’re going to get a quality program.”
Despite having literally twice the number of participants that they expected, Briere said the program has run smoothly in its first two weeks.
One reason is an abundance of volunteer coaches who range from parents of the golfers to course members who simply wanted to help.
“We want to pass on what the sport has given us over the years back to the kids,” Briere said. “So, we were very fortunate, and we have some great volunteer coaches.”
What also helps is having guest coaches like Aaron Rodeffer, head men’s golf coach at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, David Westfall, head golf coach at Harker Heights High School, and Kelly Gonyea, a member of the 2013 women’s national championship golf team at UMHB, each of whom was present Monday.
And while Briere said the program has been going great thus far, she also acknowledged that there will be room for improvement heading into the future.
But for Briere and the rest of the staff, knowing that there is a future for the Tee Off Junior Golf League is the best part.
“Seeing the numbers, we know that we want to do this again,” Briere said. “So, it just gives us something else to look forward to.”